I headed down to Diamond Lake Resort today with Cloninger to do the Northwest Challenge XC race. This is the last mtb race of the season for Oregon. We arrived at the Resort about 9:20am for the 10am start. Cloninger was making his return to racing after spending 4 months up in Alaska working on a project for work. He was foaming at the mouth to open up the legs/lungs and feel the "pain" of racing again. Not a bad showing for his return (4th place). We quickly registered and suited up and had enough time for a 10 min spin for our warm-up.
The race paralleled the lake early with some undulating singletrack and then headed up Mt. Bailey for some leg burning climbs. By the time we reached the high point it was time for some well-rewarded fast descending (very similar to the 12 Hours of Willamette DH section but shorter).
The course was 28 miles with roughly 4,000ft of elevation gain. After polishing off a gallon of ice cream this past week I wasn't sure how the body would feel under duress. I jumped out to the early lead after a confused turn within the first 100 yards. I was joined by Van Plews about 20 min. later and we stayed together for the next 6 miles. Half way up the climb on Mt. Bailey Plews began to open a gap. I stayed a consistent 2 min. behind all the way to the finish for 2nd place.
Pretty low-key event with roughly 50 racers total. Within minutes after finishing, ferocious winds and rain began to fall putting a damper on the post-race festivities. Good times for early Sept. racing.